I’m a fan of greeting cards.
I save them, and hang them on a string on the wall in my apartment.
I enjoy sending them, even more so than receiving them.
I suppose I inherited this facet of my personality from my Grandmother.
Tonight, I pulled the collection of cards down from the wall. I sat on my living room floor and sifted through the sea of colorful paper.
I reached for one; the cover, deep green. It featured three peanut cartoon characters with word bubbles over their heads. The inscription inside: “Thought you might want some complimentary nuts to go with your birthday celebration!” I laughed.
I shifted my gaze to the cursive scribbles at the bottom of the page. My eyes welled as I began to read:
“I’m the biggest nut. I’ve thought about you and the good times we’ve had together. I treasure those memories. You are special – I’m just slow. Love you, Grandma”
I remember the day perfectly. It was about two weeks past my twenty-fifth birthday. The card was late. That didn’t matter to me. I was sitting in my office in Maui, after just hanging up the phone with a disgruntled mother-of-the-bride, when Simone walked in with the envelope. The note made me laugh, first. The smile grew as I remembered the summers in her backyard growing up, and the long conversations in her living room during my college years. At the conclusion of sixty seconds, a tear had crept out of the corner of my eye, as yet again, she hadn’t failed to remind me how “amazing” and “special” I am.
A year and a half later, the card has the same effect.
I pressed onward through the pile, reliving the memories; recalling exactly where I was, and how I felt.
Finally, the carpet was visible again. I’d seen them all.
That’s when it hit me. I had received my last card from Grandma.
I thought about how I might experience an emptiness come every birthday, and every Christmas; or maybe even each time I passed the Hallmark aisle in Target.
Instead, I quickly realized that the reason I love greeting cards, is because they remind me of Grandma. And I realized that instead of symbolizing what I’ve lost, they should allow me to appreciate all that I was given.